L. Jen Shaffer

Assistant Professor

I am an ecological and environmental anthropologist focused on the exploration of local indigenous knowledge to answer questions about adapting and responding to environmental risk and change, cultural knowledge and institutions shaping adaptation, vulnerability and resilience, and environmental and historical constraints on human activities. I have conducted ethnographic and ecological fieldwork in Mozambique for more than 10 years, as well as short-term projects in Tanzania, Fiji, American Samoa, coastal Oregon, and Maryland.  Broadly, I am interested in the complexity of social-ecological systems (SES), the manifestation of sociocultural and biophysical elements within SESs, and the dialectical processes linking elements from the perspective of the people living within the SES.

Recent research in Mozambique includes: assessing indicators of change within SES using photovoice methods, mapping the SES with network analysis techniques, analyzing agency and impacts of wildlife management, and evaluating the role of health and disease in an SES.  Ongoing research interests include water security and livelihoods, the role of anthropogenic fire in shaping landscapes, food security in suburbia, and wildlife interactions and conflict in suburban and rural communities.

Research Website: Knowledge, Response, and Adaptation for Environmental Change (KRAC) Lab

Selected Publications:

In the news:



Areas of Interest:
  • Applied Anthropology; Coupled Human-Environmental Systems; Savanna and Coastal Communities; Southern Africa; Indigenous Environmental Knowledge; Historical Ecology
Personal Website:
  • PhD Anthropology (Ecological & Environmental Anthropology), 2009 – University of Georgia, Athens, GA
  • MS Environmental Studies (Biology; Geography; Planning, Public Policy & Management), 1999 – University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • BS Biology (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) cum laude, 1994 – Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
ANTH266 Changing Climate, Changing Cultures Spring 2017 Syllabus
ANTH266 Changing Climate, Changing Cultures Spring 2017 Syllabus
ANTH467 Researching Environment and Culture Spring 2017 Syllabus
ANTH222 Introduction to Ecological and Evolutionary Anthropology Fall 2015 Syllabus
ANTH467 Researching Environment and Culture Fall 2015 Syllabus
Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
ANTH452 Anthropology and Climate Change Spring 2016 Syllabus
Former Students
  • Jordan Tompkins
  • Alyssa Nutter
  • Rebecca Alberda
Related Students (Listed by Student on Student's Profile)
  • Shaffer
0110 Woods Hall
Department of Anthropology
Phone: (301) 405-1441
Email: lshaffe1@umd.edu